Flyleaf (MM)


Heat Rating: Sizzling
Word Count: 61,867
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An inscription in the front of a book has unexpected consequences for Adam Craig, the new English professor at Colby State University.

Adam has recently ended a long term relationship. Although the split was amicable, Adam is lonely. Enter sexy bookseller Tony Lucanno, the source of the book with the inscription. Adam has had previous dealings with Tony but the book brings them face to face for the first time. Alas, Tony can’t shed any light on the mysterious inscription, which Adam believes is a coded message from an older gentleman to a younger man. To add to Adam’s frustrations, Tony lives in Ann Arbor, at least seventy miles from Colby, which makes dating difficult.

Much closer to home is Blake Bellamy. Adam is captivated by the younger man on first meeting. However, their second meeting is in the classroom. Blake is a late entry student for one of Adam’s classes.

Adam has a decision to make. It isn’t easy. Tony or Blake? Will the inscription in the flyleaf point him in the right direction?

Flyleaf (MM)
0 Ratings (0.0)

Flyleaf (MM)


Heat Rating: Sizzling
Word Count: 61,867
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Cover Art by Written Ink Designs

A bell tinkled as he entered. He was greeted by a young man of about six feet, gangly, with sandy hair and brown eyes.

"Hello. Can I help you?"

"Hi. I'm Adam Craig. I think Mr. Lucarno is expecting me."

"He certainly is, Dr. Craig. I'm Ted Danforth. Tony's with a customer right now, but he should be with you soon. Can I get you anything?"

"Call me Adam, please. And I'm good, thanks. Is it all right if I browse until Mr. Lucarno's finished?"

"Of course. Browsing's what we're all about. And let me know if there's anything I can do."

Adam smiled his thanks and moved off to investigate a set of bookcases with glass fronts. As he stood there, he heard a conversation coming from the rear of the store.

"You realize, Mrs. Spielman, that putting a new cover on the book won't increase its value very much."

"Yes, Tony, but I don't plan to sell it. I simply want to read it, to enjoy it, and I don't want it falling apart. Of course, if I could have it done with lovely boards, that would make it even more pleasant to hold and read."

"I understand. There are a couple of very good book restorers here in Ann Arbor. If your book were extremely valuable, I might recommend someone in Detroit or even Chicago." There was a pause. "I've written a couple of names and phone numbers on this card. Both individuals are available by appointment only. Either will do an excellent job, though you might be more comfortable with Esther Calderon."

"Thank you, Tony. You're always so helpful. You're a sweet boy."

"Always happy to be of service. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

"No, dear. I'll let you get back to work. I think I heard someone come into the shop a minute ago."

Lucarno walked with Mrs. Spielman to the door. Then Adam heard Ted murmur something.

"Dr. Craig," Lucarno said, coming down the row between the bookshelves. "You found us!" He offered his hand.

"Hello, Mr. Lucarno," Adam said as they shook hands. "I had no trouble finding you. And please call me Adam."

"Okay, and I'm Tony. It's good to meet you at last."

"And you! I was just beginning to explore. You have a lot of goodies here. I love places like this. They even smell wonderful."

Tony chuckled. "The incense of scholarship, Reginald Hill called it. Or maybe in our case the incense of bibliophilia. You really are a bibliophile if you like our particular kind of must."

"Oh, I am."

"Would you like a cup of coffee? Or tea?"

"No, thanks. Your young man asked if I needed anything, but I'm fine."

"Ted's a treasure. He's a grad student. Been working for me since he was a freshman. I don't know what I'll do when he gets his doctorate."

"Thanks, Tony. I heard that," Ted said, though he was unseen at the cash register.

"Just so you know, Teddy," Tony said. "Now, Adam, would you like to look around some more? I have several things that might interest you."

"I'd love to browse, but you've really piqued my interest with the copy of Stranger in Paradigms you mentioned."

Stranger was Stearns' last novel, published not long after his death in 1957. The first edition had sold out quickly and fifty years later copies were fairly rare. Stearns had been recognized as the last of the great novelists who came out of the First World War, so for the final few years of his life he'd been both a commercial and a critical success.

"Ted has it ready for you. Come to the back room with me, please."

They entered what was obviously Tony's office, but it was larger and less cluttered than Adam might have expected it to be. There, lying on a table, was the book. The colorful dust jacket appeared to be in good condition.

"May I pick it up?"

"Of course. I hope you won't mind putting these on, though." Tony handed him a pair of white cotton gloves.

Adam smiled. "I'd be disappointed if you didn't ask me to."

He looked the book over carefully. Though it had obviously been read, it was in excellent condition. There was some foxing, but that was inevitable. Then he remembered something Tony had said on the phone. He looked at the front endpapers.

There, on the flyleaf, was a handwritten inscription. In faded brown ink, it read:

Christmas, 1957
Dear Intellect,
Pace! I know Stearns wasn't your favorite of his crowd. I can't help thinking, though, that some of your criticisms come from pure contrariness -- because you know how much I like his novels. Still, you'll want this to complete your collection if for no other reason.
I know you'll read Strangers, and I suspect you'll be surprised by how much you like it, even though you'll probably never admit that to me.
Merry Christmas, Love!
Sonny Boy

"Any idea who Intellect and Sonny Boy are? Or were?"

"Haven't a clue."

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